What do you get when you cross Destiny's Child, camouflage leggings and tutus with the Undy Run/Walk plus a passionate six year colon cancer survivor? Valarie Guyton-Culver and her amazing Undy team, the Sensational Survivors! Over the last three years, Valarie and her Sensational Survivor superstars have raised a total of $11,843 - every dollar getting us a step closer to ending colon cancer within our lifetime. Thank you, Valarie!
My name is Valarie Guyton-Culver and I am a 6 year colon cancer survivor. This is my story!
In 2010, I was experiencing mild abdominal pain but didn't pay it much attention. Then one morning in July, the pain was much more severe than usual. When I used the restroom, it was bright red bloody diarrhea.
I went to work anyway.
I am a Registered Nurse at the Coliseum Medical Center. I paged Dr. Don Heacock and told him what I experienced. He told me that I needed to have an endoscopy and colonoscopy. On August 4, 2010, I had the colonoscopy. When I woke up from the procedure, my family was in the recovery room with me and the room was very quiet. When I asked them for my results, I just could not believe what was coming from their mouths, so Dr. Heacock came back to the room and informed me that I had a large mass. He said it looked like cancer. He told me that I needed surgery and asked whom did I want my surgeon to be.
Of course, I knew immediately that I wanted Dr. Frank Arnold to be my surgeon from seeing his work first hand on the Medical Surgical floor I had been working for the past 8 years. On August 18th
, I turned 31 and on August 23rd
, I had an open sigmoid colectomy.
Out of 31 lymph nodes, the cancer had spread to 3.
In October, I had a portacath placed and chemotherapy from October to March. It was a long journey, but I had a wonderful support system comprised of the best doctors, family & friends anyone could have.
To anyone newly diagnosed with colon cancer, my #1 piece of advice to you is this: with God and a wonderful support system, you can make it through anything. Never give up, stay positive, and always have faith.
I found out about the Undy Run/Walk from work. The Coliseum Cancer Institute is one of the event's sponsors in Macon, GA. What has kept me coming back for three years in a row is to help raise awareness to colon cancer and to raise as much money as possible for colon cancer research.
Our 1st year participating in 2015, we ran as individuals. It was four of us that year and I raised $2500. In 2016, we decided to form a team of nine called Sensational Survivors. I raised $3063 as an individual and we raised $3,253 as a team.
This year, I had more friends and coworkers who wanted to support me and be a part of the team, so we had a total of 12. I have raised $3,780 and our team has raised $3,900 so far. We decided to go with the theme from Destiny's Child, "I'm a Survivor." In their video, Destiny's Child had on camouflage green. Since colon cancer's color is blue, we decided to wear blue camouflage leggings for the girls and camouflage shorts for the guys. Our shirts have our team name and the colon cancer logo on them.
My husband Jimmy, my best friend Shantell, my friend Cenceriette and her husband Tyrance have participated with me all 3 years. My mother has been at the race for support all three years, but this was her 1st year participating. Although my dad passed in 2014, he played an enormous role during my entire journey with colon cancer. He has been at all three races in spirit.
The Undy Run/Walk is unique because you have the opportunity to run in your underwear. My favorite colon cancer screening motto is "Love Your Butt."